Imagine the courtroom scene that young Zechariah saw in Zechariah 3. The Angel of the Lord is the judge. Joshua, the high priest, is the defendant. Standing to Joshua’s right is Satan, the accuser, acting as prosecutor.
Satan didn’t need to lie to the judge about what Joshua had done. He just needed to point and say, “He is guilty—You know it, I know it, he knows it. Guilty!”
And yet, the Lord chose Joshua, just as the Lord chose Jerusalem, just as the Lord chose Israel, just as the Lord chose you. His choice didn’t have anything to do with your self-righteousness. It had to do with His goodness. He sees you and Satan standing next to you to accuse you. He knows that He has every right and every reason to reject you.
But He chooses to do with you what He chose to do with Joshua:
“Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him, He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”” (Zechariah 3:4)
He chooses to do this even though He has every right and reason to reject you because of the stains of your sin. It is not by anything we are capable of, but only by Him and His sacrifice is it possible for us to be forgiven and completely cleansed from all unrighteousness.
O Christ, I lift mine eyes;
your love for me I own;
in your great sacrifice
remains my hope alone;
the robe is mine, my soul to dress,
of everlasting righteousness.
Why was Paul so concerned about believers in Corinth being less Corinthian and more Christian? Listen to our study from yesterday evening as we considered what it means to take off our former way of life and to put on the new self—created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
In Zechariah 3, we read about the fourth vision of young Zechariah. In this vision, he saw the spiritual reality behind what everyone else saw with their physical eyes.
What Zechariah saw was Joshua, the high priest, on trial before God Almighty. His adversary, named Satan, was accusing him, but Joshua had an advocate.
Who was this advocate? And would Joshua be found guilty or innocent? Watch our study of Zechariah 3 as we considered this courtroom scene—and the applications we find in it for us today.
The Apostle Paul wrote letters to the church in Corinth to correct their behavior. They were now citizens of a different city with a new loyalty and identity.
As believers in Jesus, they were no longer to behave as Corinthians, who promoted factions, divisions, and contentions and attempted to impress others with intellect, oratory mastery, and wise-sounding words.
But the way of Jesus is different. The Christian way is earning respect through quiet faith, others-centered service, and trusting the power of the Holy Spirit.
In 1 Corinthians 1:14-31, we considered Paul’s desire to simply tell others about the cross of Christ through quiet, consistent, and humble sacrificial service.
God encouraged the discouraged remnant in half-built Jerusalem with these words: “Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it. For I,” says the Lord, “will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.” (Zechariah 2:4-5)
“Really?” the people must have thought. “This is the future glory of this city? This is what will be far in the future as a direct result of our courageous faithfulness right here and right now? Really?”
Yes, really! It may have been difficult for them to imagine things different than how they saw it, but God’s word is true! This entire transformation began with believing God, obeying God, and moving in God’s direction.
Like the remnant, we are prone to discouragement by the lack of progress we might see in our lives. Our lives may be busted up and broken down, dilapidated due to laziness and sin. But in Christ, you are holy. You are set apart for a specific good work. God wants the world to see the reality of His existence through His relationship with You. The watching world is reading your life and your relationship with God.
So, with courageous faithfulness, place what you have into the hands of Jesus—then watch what He can do! He may even give you a glimpse of the future glory that will come from your small act of obedience right here and right now.
Join us on Wednesday nights for an additional opportunity of worship and fellowship at 6:30pm as we study the book of 1 Corinthians. There will also be opportunities for ministry to kids (ages 2-11) and youth (ages 12-12th grade) during our gatherings from 6:30-8pm. Youth & kids are encouraged to bring their Bibles!
We hope you can join us Wednesdays at 6:30pm at 912 W St. Germain Street, St. Cloud, MN
In Zechariah 1, we were introduced to the remnant of faithful Jews who returned to Jerusalem after enduring 70 years of captivity in Babylon. Their initial excitement wore off when the worries of life set in. The foundation of the temple was all they had to show for their labor and faithfulness.
So God sent Haggai and Zechariah—messengers to deliver God’s heart-changing, soul-stirring, life-giving Word to encourage them to return to obedience.
In Zechariah 2, we encounter that life-giving exhortation. His message to the remnant then is just as important for us now: “Lift your eyes and look at what God will do far in the future as a result of your courageous faithfulness today.”
Listen to our study of Zechariah 2 and receive God’s encouragement for your soul!
The Apostle Paul begins his letter to the church in Corinth with good news—God is faithful and has given them such good gifts and promises. But he also had some bad news—they were being unfaithful through their divisions and quarrels. And so, Paul begins the necessary work of correcting them with this important letter.
We want to learn from these mistakes so we don’t repeat them. Listen to our study of 1 Corinthians 1:4-13 and join us next Wednesday as we continue our study of 1 Corinthians.
In Zechariah’s first vision (Zechariah 1:8-17), Zechariah saw soldiers on horseback sent by God throughout the earth. In their midst, in the hollow among the myrtle trees, was a man.
Myrtle trees aren’t impressive like the soaring cedars of Lebanon. Their beauty is born out of difficulty. The more that their roots struggle to find soil and water, the more beautiful the tree becomes. Its blossoms are fragrant when crushed and are used for medicines.
In scripture, myrtle trees are consistently seen as a symbol of the people of the nation of Israel—hearty and beautiful who fight for existence and bless others, even while being crushed.
But there was also a man among the myrtle trees—a leader of an army who stood among the people of Israel. He seemed to be The Lord of Hosts—The Lord of Heavenly Armies. Who is this man? What is His name?
His name is Jesus—The Lord our Salvation. No matter how many times the enemy rises up to scatter and tear down, Jesus finds men and women in every generation to rise up, build up, and bless.
May the Man among the myrtle trees encourage you to be steadfastly committed to loving God, loving your family, and loving your neighbors. For when we do this in loving obedience to God—even and especially when times get tough—it terrifies our enemy.
This past Sunday, we began our study in the book of Zechariah. His ministry was complimentary to the ministry of Haggai in many ways. Where Haggai was blunt and very straightforward, Zechariah was more encouraging and uplifting.
While Haggai forced the returning remnant to focus on the immediate task at hand, Zechariah encouraged the people to lift their eyes beyond what they were working on on to what God would do far in the future.
And though Haggai was old, Zechariah was “a young man”—somewhere between a young boy and a teenager.
But Zechariah did not let his youthfulness get in the way of his usefulness for the Lord. He boldly proclaimed the word of the Lord to a people who needed to remember that the Lord remembers. Watch our study of Zechariah 1 as we got to know this young prophet in Jerusalem.
Join us on Sunday, September 10th at Wilson Park in St. Cloud after our Sunday Worship Service for an afternoon of fellowship & baptisms. We have reserved the shelter at the park for fellowship and will have an opportunity for baptisms at 1:30pm.
Let us know if you want to be baptized so we can connect with you before the event!
Following God and doing His work isn’t easy. If it was easy, the Apostle Paul wouldn’t have encouraged us to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” (see 1 Corinthians 15:58).
Serving the Lord takes courage, determination, and an others-centered attitude. Even though it is difficult, it is still the right thing to do—and it is never in vain! It might seem easier to be self-serving, but that’s like going the wrong way on a moving sidewalk—you put a lot of effort in but never really go anywhere or accomplish anything.
If you’re stuck on serving yourself, listen to the lessons we find in Haggai—stop making excuses and start considering your ways. Begin again to serve the Lord. He is with you. He is for you. He is in your corner. He’s on your side. He’s never going to leave you. He is never going to forsake you—no matter what! Turn to Him, today!
In his letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore my beloved brethren be steadfast immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Haggai was a prophet to the people of Israel during a time when they were anything but steadfast immovable and abounding in the work of the Lord. In fact, they thought their labor was in vain. So God sent Haggai with His word for His people.
The Lord wanted to flip the switch on their discouragement so they could be ready to serve. Haggai exhorted God’s people to stop making excuses, to start considering their ways, and to begin serving the Lord again.
There are lessons for us today from the small book of Haggai. Yes, the work done for the Lord is going to be difficult, but it is never in vain. God is for you. He’s never going to leave you He is never going to forsake you—no matter what!
Watch our study of the book of Haggai and be encouraged—God is with you!
In Nehemiah 8, we read of the special partnership between God’s pastors and God’s people as it pertains to the ministry of the Word.
We read of Ezra, a pastor who prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, to do what it says, and to teach his fellow Israelites. He read the word of the Lord clearly and distinctly. He helped those who listened to understand and apply God’s word for God’s glory. He raised up other faithful men who would be able to teach and care for others, leading them gently in the joy of understanding and application.
We read of the people, who have a vital role in the ministry of the Word. They gathered together in unity and asked Ezra to bring the Word. As they listened, they were attentive and respectful, eager and responsive, emotional and worshipful. They were obedient to do what God said and they were joyful in the application.
This is why we do what we do whenever we gather. We believe that the Spirit of God works through the Word of God in the hearts of the people of God. There is nothing flashy—simply reading the scripture clearly and then explaining the scripture simply so that those who hear will understand. Through this simple act of faith and obedience, the Spirit of God can radically transform the heart of an individual, a family, a fellowship, or even an entire nation.
After the 70 year captivity in Babylon, a remnant of Israelites returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and restore worship. It wasn’t easy work, but it was eventually completed.
Even though the physical structures were built up, their inward lives with the Lord needed some work. The nation needed a spiritual renovation to restore a right relationship with God.
So all the people gathered and told Ezra the scribe to bring the book. They wanted and needed to hear from God’s word to reestablish their relationship with God.
We need the same—we need the Spirit of God to work through the Word of God in the hearts of the people of God. Watch our study of Nehemiah 8 as we considered the ministry of The Word.
The final chapters of Daniel provide a prophetic outline of the end of this age—complete with details and timelines, warnings and promises. And yet, you might be wondering what Daniel might have been wondering—does this have anything to do with me?
At the very end of the book of Daniel—after all of the amazing prophetic details, an angel tells Daniel, “But you go your way till the end for you shall rest and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.” (Daniel 12:13)
Did you catch that? “But you…” As true as everything is that came before it, there’s something specific for you. There are many instances of “But you” in scripture. One instance is found in the little letter called Jude. It fits so well with what Daniel may have been experiencing and speaks to us here and now as we await for Jesus’ second coming.
In his letter, Jude identifies apostates—people who look, talk, and walk like a Christian, but who are not Christians and are actually emissaries of Satan. After all of that, he writes, “But you…” and we might think that he is going to tell us how to root up and root out these dangerous imposters, but he doesn’t. He simply encourages us to build ourselves up in the faith, to continue to pray, to stay in God’s love, and to be merciful to others (read it for yourself in Jude 20-25).
God had a course He wanted Daniel to complete, and Daniel needed to remain focused on that. God has a course He wants you to complete—remain and be focused on that.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus answers questions regarding His second coming. In His answer, He refers to the ‘abomination of desolation’ that the prophet Daniel spoke about. The scripture encourages those who read this portion to understand what it all means.
So…what does it all mean? What does the ‘abomination of desolation’ have to do with Jesus’ second coming? What does Daniel say about this? And why is it important that we understand?
These are all questions we pondered and answered in our study of Daniel this past Sunday. Turn in your Bible to Matthew 24 and Daniel 11 and watch the message from Sunday as we concluded our study of the book of Daniel.
There is a real but unseen spiritual realm where a battle is being fought. There are angels and there are fallen angels who are constantly battling over us. But we are not caught in the middle of the fight—we can participate in it (see Ephesians 6:11-13). Your prayers change how things go in that battle—and sometimes persistent prayer is what is necessary to win the battle.
So remember who and what you’re fighting for. Be persistent in prayer, continuing firmly and obstinately in spite of difficulty and opposition. Fight by faith and remember Nehemiah’s encouragement: “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” (Nehemiah 4:14)
Be persistent in prayer—in spite of difficulty the devil throws your way. Resist the devil and eventually he must flee from you (James 4:7).
Whether we realize it or not, we are in a fight. But this fight is not a physical one—it is a very real spiritual battle with spiritual weapons and spiritual enemies. Just because you cannot see this battle does not make it any less dangerous or any less real.
Knowing this, what does it look like to fight by faith? How do we fight an enemy who is real, but unseen? How can we engage in this fight while resisting all the devil’s methods of attacks?
These were questions that we asked as we considered Daniel 10 this past Sunday. In this chapter, Daniel shows us the importance of fighting by faith on behalf of his people. Watch our study in Daniel 10 as we learned the importance of being persistent in prayer.
In Daniel 9, Daniel receives a gift. This wasn’t a physical gift, but the skill to understand something very specific. The gift was the ability to understand the exact timeline of all the remaining future of the nation of Israel.
At first read, it’s clear to see why Daniel would need the skill to understand one of the most astounding prophecies in all of scripture. But as we slowly and carefully work our way through the passage, the details come into focus.
Watch our second study of Daniel 9 as we reviewed the first part of the chapter then considered the prophecy Daniel received regarding the future of the nation of Israel.
There are many lessons that we can take away from a close study of the first section of Daniel 9. Here are some lessons that we learned this past Sunday:
God longs to use you, speak to you, and bless you with insight and understanding at every age of your life. Remember that Daniel was a teenager when he was taken to Babylon. Daniel determined in his heart ahead of time to obey and serve God, who used him greatly and miraculously throughout his entire life.
The same Holy Spirit who helped Daniel to understand the Scriptures is the same Holy Spirit who helps us to understand the Scriptures. Daniel read Jeremiah just like we read Daniel. And just as Daniel realized from the Scriptures that something very significant was about to happen, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do the same.
When we pray for our nation, we need to include ourselves in need of God’s mercy. When Daniel realized the significance of what was going to happen, his reaction was one of mourning, praying, fasting, and confession for his nation’s transgressions. He even included himself as a transgressor as he sought mercies from God.
When we pray, we need to present our supplication with wisdom and passion. Daniel didn’t hold back when he approached God for mercy. The word ‘supplication’ means to beg for something humbly and earnestly. It’s more than okay to be passionate in prayer as long as you remember who you’re speaking to and why He should listen to you: “we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.” (Daniel 9:18)
God is merciful. God is merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abounding in goodness and truth. Daniel acknowledged that God had every right to refuse listening to his prayer—and yet, we do not approach God because we are righteous but because He is merciful.
Student of Scripture—read and heed the lessons God longs to teach you as you open your heart, and your mind, and your eyes, and your ears to His word!
Prophecy is one of the main ways that God authenticates Himself as the Author of the Scriptures. Over 25% of all the verses in the Bible contain detailed information concerning the future. Over half of all those prophecies have already been fulfilled just as God said they would.
Throughout the book of Daniel, we’ve observed that what was future prophecy for Daniel is ancient history from our perspective. Daniel 9 is one of those chapters where we see ancient history and future prophecy from our perspective.
Watch our study from Sunday as we began our study in Daniel 9, considering both the prophecies foretelling events that occurred in the ancient history of the nation of Israel and prophecies for the future not yet fulfilled.
God feeds the ravens. He clothes the lilies. And He loves us so much more than those! He loves us so much that He gives us promises we find in His prophecies. And if His promises hold for something as astounding as the rising and falling of world empires, His promises will hold for something as personal as the problems we face.
We are learning and choosing to trust Him. We’re learning and choosing to trust God with everything—from His plans for world empires to the problems that keep us up at night. We can trust Him because His promises are true. He has promised to finish the work that He has started in you (Philippians 1:6). He has promised to never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He has promised to be with you now, even until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). And despite what happens, He will hold fast. He will keep His promises. He will be faithful to fulfill His word.
As we wait for those promises to be fulfilled, He tells us to not fear, for “God is pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32). His kingdom is coming! Are you ready? Is He your King? Simply confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. The Bible says that if you do this, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. Trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as the Lord of your life!
God is the only One who is trustworthy. He is the only One who can see the beginning from the end with perfect accuracy. So you can trust God’s word! He has established and authenticated it beyond a shadow of a doubt.
One of the ways God has authenticated His word is through prophecy—prophecy like we find in Daniel 8, which foretold events in history centuries before they happened.
Watch our study of Daniel 8 as we carefully considered these prophecies.
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends